All About the Parachutes

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How you ever wondered about what these parachutes are made of? The parachutes that have the power to carry a living being across the blue sky and back to the firm ground. What are they made of? Let’s talk about the materials and fabrics used in the making of a parachute and how are they manufactured!

Apart from being a rescue technique, it has also become an amusing activity these days.

two person doing boat paragliding

The descent of the parachute largely depends on its material, quality, and how fine and strong its texture is. By creating a drag in mid-air, it decelerates the fall of the objects. It works on the basic principle of air resistance and gravity. Parachutes were originally made from silk, but commonly nylon is used. They are basically made from light cloth-material.

Properties

The basic idea behind the material for the parachute was to make it strong. The properties measured were weight, breaking strength, tear resistance, elasticity, and air permeability. The cloth should possess high resistance to the continuation of a tear already started. Whereas breaking strength always applies to the simultaneous breaking of the system of yarns. In the construction of a parachute, the gores or panels are usually cut on the bias. So that the warp and filling yarns make an angle with the seams running from the center to the hem of the parachute. In this way, if a tear is started, it follows along the direction of yarn to the seam. Where the resistance is sufficient to prevent further rupture. Parachute’s quick and positive opening depends largely on the ability of the layers of the cloth to spring apart along the folds. Thus permitting air to rush in and quickly inflate the envelope. The elasticity of cloth tends to distribute the sudden load more uniformly over the envelope. Thereby preventing the development of excessive stress in the region of the envelope.

 

Silk and Nylon

The canopy of the parachute was initially made of canvas, which was eventually replaced by silk, which was thinner, lighter, stronger, fire-resistant, and easy-to-fold. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the World War affected silk import in the United States. In order to counter the shortage of silk, innovators tried using different materials to make parachute canopy and finally came up with the idea of replacing silk with nylon. The fact that it had good elasticity, it was resistant to mildew, and was relatively less expensive, worked in its favor. The nylon fabric used in parachute is woven in a specialized manner, with extra thick thread, to create a pattern of small squares. The technique proves helpful when the canopy experiences small tears, as these small squares avoid the tears from spreading.

Being strong, flexible, and light, nylon is also used to make harness straps and suspension lines of the parachute. Forged steel is used to manufacture the metal connectors used to gather the suspension lines. This forged steel is coated with cadmium to prevent the connectors from rusting.

Source: https://www.technicaltextile.net/articles/an-overview-of-parachute-fabric-7170 and https://thrillspire.com/parachute-materials-fabric